Leon A. Sims (shown here on left with John Hoblick, president Florida Farm Bureau Federation presenting award) was born August 7, 1927 in Branford in rural Suwannee County. At Branford High School, he was student body president and an active member of the FFA chapter, achieving every FFA degree available, including the coveted American Farmer Degree awarded at the National FFA Convention. Leon was the first student ever in Suwannee County to earn the American Farmer Degree. Leon attended the University of Florida, where he received a bachelor’s of agriculture degree, a master’s degree in agricultural education, and a doctorate of education.
From 1955 to 1960, Leon was a vocational agriculture teacher in Alachua County at High Springs High School and then at Santa Fe High School. From 1962 to 1965, he was an assistant professor of agricultural education at UF. In 1966, Leon joined the Florida Department of Education’s Vocational Division, where he served in many capacities until 1989, including coordinator of vocational evaluation, bureau chief of vocational planning and budgeting, and assistant director of vocational, adult and community education. His positions in the Department of Education allowed him to promote and implement concepts that have made agricultural education and the FFA in Florida enviable and prestigious. Leon later served as research associate for Florida State University’s Center for Needs Assessment and Planning from 1989 to 2002, when he retired. Among his special roles, Leon was a member of the Governor Commission’s Study of Florida Education, and a member of the commissioner’s study team on Reorganizing the Florida Department of Education. He was inducted into the Florida Vocational Association Hall of Fame in 1993. In other areas of support to agricultural education and FFA, Leon served three terms as a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, and three terms on the Advisory Board of Florida FFA. Leon is a member of the Seasoned Owls, using his historical knowledge and information about vocational agriculture and the FFA to provide valuable insight and assistance for the Seasoned Owls’ History Project.
Leon married Miriam Edwards in 1954. They have two daughters – Ann and Janet – and six grandchildren.